A 33-year-old disability advocate in the Louisiana governor’s office has died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the governor announced Saturday. April Dunn served as chairwoman of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday on Twitter. “On behalf of @FirstLadyOfLA and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19,” Edwards said. “She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her.”
Louisiana had 3,540 cases of the coronavirus and 151 resulting deaths Sunday, according to WDSU. It also has the nation’s third-highest rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita, the news outlet reported. Edwards said Wednesday at a press conference that the New Orleans area could run out of ventilators for those hospitalized because of the virus by the first week of April. “This virus has spread across the state of Louisiana. This is real. And our state and everyone in it needs to take it very seriously,” Edwards told reporters.
San Diego reporter Marie Coronel said in a tweet Sunday that with “a rapidly rising death toll” it’s “important to remember the real lives lost.” She listed Miami nurse Araceli Ilagan, New York nurse Kious Kelly, Washington mother of six Sundee Rutter, and Dunn. “Rest In Peace,” Coronel said in the tweet.
Dunn was an important part of Louisiana’s State As A Model Employer Taskforce, an initiative to improve hiring practices to include people with disabilities. Edwards said in another tweet April told him “how much she wanted to be part of it because of her struggles to find meaningful employment.” “I was proud to have an advocate like April on the task force & on my staff,” the governor said. “She set a great example for how other businesses could make their workforce more inclusive.”
Dunn has advocated before the legislature for funding to create more homes and community-based waiver offerings, according to an Office of Disability Affairs newsletter The Advocate obtained. She also earned the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities’ Champions of Equal Opportunity award last July for advocating for herself, the newspaper reported. The organization tweeted this statement about her death Sunday: “April was an unbelievable advocate and friend and we will miss her terribly. NACDD is forever grateful for knowing and working with April.”
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